Forensic Identification Services


2024-01-10 10:01 PST

Most of us who like crime television shows know the forensic skills of Gil Grissom, Horatio Cane and Mac Taylor in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation series. However, what happens on TV, doesn’t necessarily happen in the real world, just ask Kelowna RCMP Forensic director Sergeant Eric Page.

We call it the CSI effect, says Sgt. Page. It seems to have had an effect on the public, on our suspects and even on our team members. What you see on TV just doesn’t work that way, he says with a snicker.

Page and his five-person crew of the Forensic Identification Services (FIS) Unit within the Kelowna RCMP detachment are an integral part of investigations officers conduct each and everyday. Their primary role is to attend a crime scene, document and collect as much evidence as possible, whether that is fingerprints, DNA, foot, tire or tool impressions to name only a few.

The manner in which evidence is collected has changed over the years but the goal remains the same for this talented group; to piece together the puzzle of what happened.

The most important tool the FIS team uses in the collection of evidence now-a-days is the camera. Photography of a scene has become even more critical in the investigation. When I first started, photography was still in the film era, so when I arrived at a scene I had to get as much into a photo as I could with a roll of 12 or 24. With digital photography and a good scene, we are taking a couple hundred photos at a time.

For Page and his team, each time they attend a crime scene, it’s unique to that offence. The steps and process of collecting the evidence left behind is similar but the path to the truth is different as he describes, There are little breadcrumbs that lead you here or there. That’s why I enjoy this part of police work the most, each scene has its own unique flair. For example, I could go to a hundred vehicle scenes and you can learn something new about each one, like a new method of getting into a vehicle, or attempting to disarm the ignition. We just let the path of contamination lead the direction.

Once the photos are taken and the evidence collected Page and his team summarize what has been found, write a report that documents their involvement, then lay out their next steps. When the fingerprints of an individual are confirmed by the BC Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) the team must follow the scientific methodology that they are properly analyzing and comparing it to a potential suspect.

After all the steps in the process have been taken, that information then goes back to the RCMP officer that is going to continue the investigation. FIS is an assist unit within the detachment and have no contact with the people involved with the crime. Their job is strictly to collect evidence and try to make sense of what happened using all the tools and equipment at their disposal.

Like most professions as technology advances, so too do the tools that can be used in the business of evidence collection. The Kelowna RCMP FIS Unit have a variety of cameras, drones, 3-D scanners and several different types of chemicals to examine all forms of evidence all in attempts to piece together the puzzle of the crime scene. This will blow your mind, I was part of a file in the past that we were able to find blood from a suspect in a car that had changed owners three times since the suspect owned it. That’s how far the technology has come.

For the FIS team, helping an investigator solve a crime is extremely gratifying, but when they get a hit on a fingerprint, it’s the top of the thrill chain. When BC AFIS calls you back, it’s like Christmas. We actually have a bell right around the corner here in the office and you get to ring it if you get a fingerprint hit.

With all these tools, technology, and CSI television shows, expectations of finding out the truth quickly are higher then they ever have been before, but in the real world it does take time to get it right. As much as they would love to have Gil Grissom and all of his made-for-TV tools, Sgt. Page and his team must be thorough when analyzing their evidence so the best outcome can be made and they find ‘Who Are You.’

 handprint on a wall

Released by

Ryan Sencar

Kelowna RCMP
1190 Richter St, Kelowna, British Columbia V1Y 6V7


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